Dancing For The Ages

Dancing for the Ages is a popular NWDance outreach program which takes volunteer dancers to area retirement communities to bring the joy of social dance to seniors who may not have had the opportunity to dance in years. The program was the brainchild of Marlene Bengeult, who was inspired by her then 92-year-old mother. Living in a retirement home, her mother’s love of music and dance was undiminished, but her opportunities to enjoy them were limited. Marlene recruited dancers to volunteer their skills and enthusiasm in retirement home settings, and Dancing for the Ages was born. Since its inception, it has put smiles on the faces of hundreds of participants, volunteers and residents alike!


Dina Blade
As the Dancing for the Ages Coordinator, longtime area favorite performer and social dancer Dina Blade brings her infectious energy and enthusiasm to the program with lots of exciting monthly events in the works.
“Today’s event with the residents, volunteer dancers, and the band was so dang much fun that afterward one lady came up and quite earnestly said, ‘We really needed this.’I felt like she was speaking for everyone, including myself and the band. Another resident told me, ‘I’ve been here 5 years and there has never been anything like this before.’ The overall plan seems to be working very well, helping to make some folks’ lives a little cheerier with a healthy dose of music they remember. Watching some of those folks dancing is so heartwarming. Their bodies might look pretty stiff but they are game for it anyway.”
Gayle McKool
Gayle recruits and coordinates the volunteer dancers. She makes sure the volunteers know what to do and what to expect, so everyone has a terrific time.
“The residents absolutely love these events. You can see the joy and happiness in their faces. But you know who else loves it? Our NW Dance volunteers! The joy and happiness on their faces is just as bright!”

In order to participate, simply send us an email to be notified of upcoming volunteer opportunities. Dances usually last 1-2 hours and most often involve dancing to a live band. No experience or long-term commitment is required. Just come, have fun and share your joy!

Our experience dancing with the residents was so rewarding … such appreciation, such fun watching them come out of their shells, accept us, start to smile, gain confidence and eventually ask each other to dance. As we were packing up, one resident asked, “When will you come back?” I said, “When would you like us to come back?” She said, “Tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day and the next day…!”
It’s pretty casual and not unlike any other dance, except that the residents have varying degrees of mobility/stability. Some of them are pretty darn spry and may be able to out dance some of us! When we go to new venues things can start a little slow. We’re strangers, after all, and some of them can be shy and may need a little coaxing. So we circulate, try to read body language—dancing in their chairs is a good indicator—and ask the residents to dance. Folks usually warm up as time goes by. I guarantee you, that if you give it a try, you’ll get hooked.
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